By Oni Femi, Ekiti
The Ekiti state Governor, Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, in the early hour on Sunday, joined Ekiti State Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Special schools and other Disability based Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to commemorate this year International Day of Persons With Disabilities.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated annually on December 3rd. This year’s event with the theme “United in Action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by Persona with Disabilities,” was held at Lady Jibowu Hall in Government House.
INN reports that all the persons with disabilities in attendance were looking very happy because the governor was joining them at this year’s celebration for the first time.
Speaking at the event, Governor Oyebanji said he is proud to say that the state is at the forefront of creating a more inclusive society.
“We have passed laws to protect the rights of people with disabilities, and we are investing in programmes that help them to flourish.”
The governor also stated that his government is working on projects to improve the lives of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in schools
He said, “As a government, we have several ongoing projects and programmes designed to improve the lives of people with disabilities in schools.
“These projects include the renovation of hostels and classrooms, approval of 17 therapists and 91 permanent support staff for employment, including people with disabilities and single mothers with children with disabilities.
“In collaboration with AGILE, we will be establishing adapted classrooms, the first of their kind in any public special school in Nigeria and an Acquisition Centre for Persons with Disabilities equipped to train 240 people with disabilities in shoemaking, ICT, sewing, and catering, where established industries will take participants as interns for six weeks after training as part of their training.
“We must work together to break down barriers and build a society that values every individual’s unique perspectives and talents.”
Governor Oyebanji conclusively implores other Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to work with the office of Special Education and Social Inclusion as to create a more inclusive society for PWDs.
In her goodwill message, Senior Special Adviser to the governor on Special Education and Social Inclusion, Princess Adetoun Agboola thanked Governor Oyebanji for his love and consistent support for people with disabilities in the state.
She said “In my years of experiences, it’s the first time seeing a Governor who is this intentional about supporting people with disabilities. It’s heartwarming to see the various initiatives and policies that your administration has put in place to improve the lives of persons with disabilities from employment opportunities to education and training.”
She further mentioned the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in their daily lives including discrimination, lack of access to education, health care and employment opportunities. She also implored parents and other stakeholders to work with the present administration towards creating a more inclusive society.
Mr Funso Olajide, the General Secretary, Ekiti State JONAPWD and Executive Director, Disability Not a barrier Initiative, appreciated Governor Oyebanji for his unwavering support for Persons with disabilities in the state. He used the occasion to present to Mr Governor the hardcopy of their requests from Governor Oyebanji’s administration.
The event highlighted the presentation of awards to some stakeholders in disability community. Awelewa Enitan received an award for being the best student, “Disability not a barrier initiative” also received an award for its impacts. Other stakeholders also received awards for their tireless services in the state.